Does Your Company have a DFARS NIST 800-171 Time Bomb?

On December 30, 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) published a three-page interim rule to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), revising its earlier August 2015 interim rule on Safeguarding Covered Defense Information.

This new interim rule is a ticking time bomb that gives government contractors a deadline of December 31, 2017 to implement all of the requirements of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171-Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Information Systems and Organizations —  or lose their contracts.

The NIST Special Publication 800-171 provides federal agencies with requirements for protecting Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) when:

  • The CUI is resident in non-federal information systems and organizations
  • The information systems where the CUI resides are not used or operated by contractors of federal agencies or other organizations on behalf of those agencies
  • There are no specific safeguarding requirements for protecting the confidentiality of CUI prescribed by the authorizing law, regulation, or government wide policy for the CUI category or subcategory listed in the CUI Registry.

Cybersecurity and compliance teams at government contractors are searching for technology to automate the necessary, but taxing process of implementing the mandated controls and remaining compliant on an ongoing basis. Organizations are finding that it is one thing to implement the 800-171 controls once, but quite another to implement and monitor them continuously.

RedSeal has a history of support for federal government cybersecurity initiatives. The company’s innovative software platform is installed in numerous DoD, intelligence, and civilian organizations for the purpose of continuous monitoring. At the highest level, RedSeal delivers three core security controls: visibility, verification, and prioritization.

RedSeal’s cybersecurity capabilities align with many of the controls in NIST 800-171. RedSeal supports a total of 26 controls in 7 of the 14 NIST 800-171 security requirements families; at a high level RedSeal supports 800-171 control areas as follows:

Configuration Management Continuous validation of actual system configurations versus desired state across multi-vendor infrastructure.
Risk Assessment & Incident Response Prioritization of vulnerabilities for efficient and effective remediation and response.
Network Security Architecture & Access Control Network map and situational awareness for risk assessment and systems categorization and segmentation validation.
Security Assessment and Continuous Monitoring Analysis of actual, deployed information flow architecture and continuous comparison with desired architecture and policy.
Planning, Program Management and Acquisition Inventory, audit and analysis of network security architecture for legacy, new deployments, and acquired systems.


With RedSeal, federal system integrators can significantly reduce the cost and time associated with enforcing compliance against SP 800-171 by automating assessment of many of the SP 800-171 controls. Certain controls have traditionally been difficult to automate, and therefore resource intensive to maintain and audit. However, RedSeal’s unique technology automates and prioritizes these difficult controls, greatly decreasing resource requirements while improving the quality of the control.

The federal government is placing a greater sense of urgency on real-time situational awareness and continuous monitoring to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of responses to emerging security threats, and is now including government contractors in that effort.  By implementing RedSeal, organizations can lower the cost of compliance, increase situational awareness, and improve control activity efficacy in an operationally efficient manner.

Will you defuse this bomb in time?

For more information on how RedSeal can assist with NIST 800-171 controls, please contact Matt Venditto, or download a more detailed datasheet on NIST 800-171 here.